Vegetable Orzo Salad with a Chobani Basil Dressing.

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This was one of those recipes that purely came to mind while I was meandering through the farmer’s market on Tuesday.  The freshness of all of the spring vegetables inspired me.  I was beyond thrilled to find some golden beets, that are incredible if you get a chance to buy or taste them.  And off I went to my kitchen with my bags in tow to create.

I love do to a few meatless recipes for my carnivore family a week.  Just to let them see that they can be sustained without meat and enjoy it.  Everyone loved this dish!  Glad I got a few shots of it before they descended.  Ha ha.  This recipe is very flexible – you can add whatever veggies you have on hand.  Optional ideas:  olives, cherry tomatoes, jalapeƱos, green beans, edamame… the list goes on and on.

Ingredients:

1 package of whole wheat Orzo pasta
2 softball sized beets (golden or red are fine)
1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced in half and then quartered
3 ears of corn on the cob, kernels removed and cooked on the stovetop to brown and carmelize
4 spring green onions, sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, steamed or pan fried with a tiny bit of olive oil for 4 minutes to make a bit tender
1 large bell pepper (I used red)
1/3 cup of shelled pistachios

Dressing:
1 handfull of fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and Pepper (I used LoSalt with is a low sodium alternative)

Directions:

Start by roasting your beets.  Here is a recipe on how to do this simply.  If you have golden beets, no gloves are required but if they are red, gloves to protect your hands are a must.  Click here for my recipe.  Let them cool and then slice into 1/2 inch rounds and then quarter.

Cook your orzo according to package directions and drain.  Because this dish needs to be refrigerated for a few hours to let the flavors blend, I drizzled some olive oil atop of the pasta and gave it a good stir.  Let it cool.

In a saute pan over medium heat, add a touch of olive oil and the corn kernels.  Let cook without stirring for 4 minutes or so and then give a good stir.  Let them brown up and then remove from the heat and let cool.

Into a large bowl add your vegetables.  Then add the cooled orzo pasta.

To whip up the dressing, simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor or Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust spices accordingly.  Then add to your salad.

Once the dressing is mixed in to the salad, coating everything nicely – cover and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.  Before serving, give the salad a good stir to incorporate the dressing again and enjoy.

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— Knead to Cook

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chobani Muffins.

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Today is a snowy, rainy, basically icky kind of Monday.  After I ran and got my daughter to school, I figured I would start baking.  I need to bake for a school event on Wednesday and I’m quite busy tomorrow so I wanted to get a jump on it.  I made this recipe (doubled it) half with loaves and the remaining in these cute muffin cups.  Either way would work!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of Smart Balance or butter, softened
1/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 cup of unbleached white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of vanilla Chobani yogurt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional:  Chocolate chips
Nuts

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your pans/cups etc. with baking spray with flour.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer, blend sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl whisk the flour, oats, baking soda and salt together.   Add to the butter mixture.  Then add the pumpkin puree, Chobani, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Blend well and scrape the sides down and mix again.

For the chocolate chip version.  Pour 1/2 of the well with chocolate chips and then top with additional batter (fill 3/4 of the way filled).  Add more chocolate chip and mix with a knife gently.

For the plain version:  Spoon the batter into the well 3/4 of the way filled.

Muffins:  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Mini loaf pans:  20-24 minutes.

Full loaf pan:  26-30+ minutes.  To ensure that the loaf is completely cooked through (or any method you decide to use) insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, it’s cooked throughout.

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— Knead to Cook

Cabot Cheese Tuscan Cheddar Biscuits.

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Cabot Cheese was so generous to ship me a lovely care package of their products, which I love, and I wanted to whip up a fun new recipe to serve along with dinner.  I came up with small, bite-sized biscuits that can be easily used as an appetizer idea too!  Best served hot from the oven.

Ingredients:

4 cups of bread flour (I used King Arthur’s bread flour)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1.5 tablespoon of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 stick of room temperature butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup of full fat milk
1 egg beaten, for the egg wash
1 8 ounce block of Cabot Cheddar Tuscan Cheddar cheese (shredded)

Directions:

Place parchment or a Silpat on your baking sheets (2).  In your stand mixer with the dough hook attached, blend flour, sugar, powder, salt, butter, eggs and milk.  After mixing for about 2 minutes, add 3/4 of the block of shredded cheese to the dough.  Knead it in with the dough hook on for an additional 6 minutes.

Remove the dough and place on a floured surface.  Roll out to about 1 inch thick or slightly thicker. Using your biscuit cutter, or whatever cutter you wish, cut out the dough and gently place the biscuits on your baking sheet.  Brush the top of the biscuits with the egg wash then top with the remaining shredded cheese.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Remove from the fridge and place into a hot oven.  Bake for 10-12  minutes or longer depending on the size of biscuit you select.  Make sure the cheese is melted and the biscuit is a light golden brown.  Serve.

— Knead to Cook

Sweet & Salty Valentine Cookie Bars.

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Adapted from Guittard Super Cookie Chip Cookie Recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces of Guittard Super Cookie Chips
1/2 cup of pretzel pieces, salted
1/4 cup of M&Ms
Sprinkles (optional) Valentine Day oxoxo sprinkles used.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.  Spray the 9×9 glass pan with baking spray. Set aside.

In your stand mixer, paddle attached, cream butter and sugars.  Then beat in the egg and vanilla until creamy.  Add the flour mixture, blend.  Blend well.  By hand, stir in the chocolate chips.   Spread the dough into the pan evenly distributed.  Then press in pretzel pieces and the m&m’s throughout the top.  Bake for 20 minutes or so (until the edges are golden brown).  Let cool and then store in a container with a lid.

 

— Knead to Cook

Cherry & Pistachio (red & green) Christmas Biscotti.

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I make these red and green biscotti every Christmas.  I just love the red and green combination of the tart cherries and the green pistachios.  Biscotti are super easy to make, although take a bit of time because of the double baking.  But the end result is so worth it.

My grandmother always used cornmeal in her biscotti recipe and it just adds a different texture that makes these cookies undeniably a favorite.  I hope you get a chance to whip these up before Christmas next week.  The batch does make a fair amount, depending on how thick or thin you slice them.  And they keep for several days.  Perfect for dunking in tea, coffee or hot chocolate this season.

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s unbleached ap)
3/4 cup of stone ground corn meal
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of pistachios (shelled and roughly chopped) – you can use more or less
1/2 cup of dried tart cherries ( you can always use dried cranberries if you have them on hand)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a dry mixture bowl combine, the flour, cornmeal, powder and salt together with a whisk.

In your stand mixer, blend your sugar and eggs together for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.  Then add in the dry mixture.  Blend for 1 minute then add the nuts/cherries.  Blend until combined.  The dough will be sticky.  Wet your hands prior to removing the dough from the mixer, this will help you to work better with it.  Divide the dough in half.  Place both halves on your cookie sheet and shape into a 12 inch by 2.5 inch log.  Press the dough down to a thickness of about an inch or so.

Bake the dough for 32-34 minutes or until it starts getting a golden brown edge.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then with a serrated knife, slice diagonal about 1/2-3/4 of an inch thick.  You don’t want it too thick or too thin so eyeball it.  Take each slice and lay it cut side down on your baking sheet.  They can be butted up against one another.  You can fit all of the slices on one cookie sheet using your space wisely.  Bake again for 20-24 minutes.  The cookies should be toasted and as they cool, will get a bit crunchier.  Store in a ziploc baggie or tupperware.  Great for sending in a care package or as a gift for friends and neighbors.

— Knead to Cook

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies topped with Sea Salt.

This could be the quintessential PMS cookie.  Salt, sugar… it’s perfection.  Even if you don’t suffer with that lovely disorder… anyone who loves bacon will be grabbing for one of these.  I don’t know why I thought it would be a great combo but it totally is and the smell is soooooo fabulous.  I ate one and stepped away.  I have to restrain myself or go back out to run again.  :)  Totally fun twist on a classic.

*Adaptation from Guittard.

Ingredients:

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter, softened
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces of Guittard Super Cookie Chips or regular dark chocolate chips
4-6 strips of cooked, cooled and crumbled pieces of smoked bacon
Sea Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer, paddle attached, cream butter and sugars.  Then beat in the egg and vanilla until creamy.  Add the flour mixture, blend.  Blend well.  By hand, stir in the chocolate chips and bacon.  Drop rounded cookie dough onto your baking sheet.  Sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on top of each cookie dough ball.  Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.  Let cool and then store in a container with a lid.

— Knead to Cook

Peppermint Patty Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Who doesn’t love peppermint?!  My kids LOVE it!  And tomorrow starts our first winter swim meet and I’m always baking like a madwoman to prepare.  The kids swim and they eat… this is what winter swim (and summer) is all about! Some healthy snacks and some decedent ones for post race celebration.  These are a reason to celebrate!  I promise.

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons of King Arthur’s all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of Smart Balance butter (or you can use regular butter)
6 tablespoons of packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
10 ounces of chocolate chips
1 bag of individually wrapped Peppermint Patties (unwrapped)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray your 9×9 glass pan with baking spray.

In a small bowl, mix flour, soda and salt.

In your stand mixer, beat butter and both sugars for 3 minutes.  Then add the egg and peppermint extract.  Add the flour mixture and beat on slow until incorporated.  Beat in the chocolate chips by hand.

Take half of the dough and place it in the prepared pan and smooth it out to cover the bottom.  Then lay the peppermint patties over top of the cookie dough.  You can spread them or butt them together.  Then take the remaining dough and place it on top.  It may not cover totally but it will melt and distribute.  Bake for 22-24 minutes.  Keep a watchful eye if they need to bake a few minutes longer depending on your oven.

*Chocolate chip cookie recipe is an adaptation from Guittard’s super cookie chip cookie recipe.

— Knead to Cook

Honey Cayenne Roasted Almonds.

Just purchased several huge bags of raw almonds.  We love them for snacking and with our first swim meet this weekend – they are a go to, healthy snack.  These are super easy to prepare and you can control the heat.  These also package well for holiday shipping care packages.

Ingredients:

3 cups of raw almonds
1/3 cup of honey
1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want them)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheet with a Silpat.

In a small bowl combine the turbinado sugar and salt.  Set aside.

In a larger mixing bowl, add the almonds, cayenne and honey.  Stir to coat.  Then spread them out in a single layer on your lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes then give them a good stir.  Add back for an additional 10 minutes.  Once you remove them, stir them again.  Then sprinkle with some of the sugar/salt mixture.  While cooling, I keep stirring and adding additional sprinkles or salt/sugar mixture.  They will stick together but easily break apart.  Taste to adjust if they need more salt etc.

— Knead to Cook

Eggnog Bread with Rum Glaze.

 

 

A friend just emailed me for this recipe and I thought I would add it quickly to my website.  I will be making this shortly for Christmas gifts for friends/neighbors (as well as taking better photos of it).  But for now, here are my not-so-fabulous pics of my very fabulous eggnog bread.

 

 

 

I want to preface this recipe by stating that I make it in mini loaf pans (4 to be exact) for one batch.  If you don’t wish to use alcohol try using juice as a nice substitution.  Now onto the recipe:

 

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups of regular eggnog (not low fat)
2 tsp Spiced Rum
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter @ room temperature
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 (3.4 ounces of powdered) package of instant French vanilla pudding mix (see pic above)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg


Directions:


Preheat oven to 350. Spray your loaf, muffin etc. pan with non stick spray with flour. 

In your mixer using the paddle – mix together the eggs, eggnog, rum, sugar, vanilla and butter. The butter will remain clumpy but that is just fine. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add the dry mixture to the wet and blend until incorporated. Avoid over mixing. Again, the butter will remain clumpy and this is to be expected. The butter will melt when cooking. The dough will be thicker – be aware.  Pour into your prepared choice of pan(s). Bake your mini loaves for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. A regular loaf pan will take about 45-55 minutes. 

Rum glaze:
1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
2 tsp eggnog
2 tbl Spiced Rum
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg

Whisk together and pour over your cooled eggnog bread.

 

— Knead to Cook

Double Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti.

 

From the minute Thanksgiving is over I’m dreamily going through my days anticipating Christmas.  I know, most people are stressing, but I love this time of year.  Coincidentally, my birthday is very close, which only makes this time of year more fun for me!  I’ve been wanting to whip up my double chocolate peppermint biscotti and with a quiet house this afternoon, on this nutty cyber Monday, I took the opportunity.  They are as good as I remember from last year.  Nice hint of cool, crisp mint flavor, decadent smooth dark chocolate… ****I’m swooning.**

I love these as a little gift for neighbors, teachers or anyone who you want to share a lovely treat during the holidays with.  They package beautifully and ship perfectly.

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Wilbur)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of butter (I use Smart Balance baking stick)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2-3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips for the biscotti

Topping:

20 candy canes (crushed)
1 cup of melted chocolate (dark)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa, soda and salt.  Whisk to combine.  In your stand mixer, paddle attachment on, blend the sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the eggs.  Blend.  And finally the extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend.  This is a very firm dough.  Once combined, add the chocolate chips and mix by hand or with the mixer.

Separate the dough into two equal halves.  Then form a long log like shape that you flatten a bit.  It should measure about 12 or so inches long.  I like to make these smaller biscotti because they are very decadent with the chocolate coating.  Then repeat.  Place both logs onto your baking sheet and bake for 34-36 minutes or until firm.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then place on a cutting board and with a serrated knife, slice 1/2 thick pieces on a diagonal.  Place them back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12 minutes or until toasted nicely.

Melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave, keeping a watchful eye so it doesn’t burn.  Add the oil and mix until creamy and smooth.  Add the peppermint pieces to a bowl and set aside.  Once the biscotti are done toasting.  Dip one end of your cookie into the chocolate.  Let the excess drip off.  Then sprinkle some peppermint pieces over the melted chocolate.  Place on a drying rack to set up.  Once the chocolate has firmed up, store in a tupperware container with a lid for up to 4-5 days.  Enjoy!

— Knead to Cook